WESTWOOD, Mass. -- Xaverian senior Shayne Kaminski had 151 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns in the second half alone as the top-seeded Hawks beat Attleboro, 35-28, in Saturday afternoon’s Division 1 South final.
Attleboro took a 14-7 lead into halftime and extended it to 21-7 on the opening drive of the second half, but Xaverian responded quickly and continued to gain momentum, scoring 28 straight points.
"We came out in the second half and we needed to run the football because obviously we didn't want to give them more opportunities offensively because they're very explosive," Xaverian head coach Charlie Stevenson said. "We really took control of the line of scrimmage in the second half and Shayne was just a monster."
The Hawks opened scoring in the second quarter when quarterback Jake Farrell was able to escape Attleboro defenders in the backfield before firing a pass down field to a wide open Coby Tippett for a 48-yard touchdown. Attleboro responded on its next drive, taking it to the Xaverian 32 before Attleboro quarterback Tim Walsh found Brenden Massey in one-on-one coverage for a touchdown, making it 7-7.
Patrick Dunn then intercepted Farrell on the next drive and Attleboro marched 63 yards before Walsh hit a wide open Luke Morrison, who had just made a spectacular one-handed, 35-yard catch on the previous play, for a 6-yard touchdown with 36 seconds remaining in the half.
But the second half belonged to Kaminski, who finished with 30 carries for 200 yards.
After Attleboro made it 21-7, Xaverian drove 70 yards on eight plays — five of them runs by Kaminski — before the senior went through a big hole towards the right side for an 18-yard touchdown. On the next series, Xaverian junior defensive back Ernest Simon picked off Walsh. Though the offense was forced to punt, the kick pinned Attleboro inside their own 30 and after a hold, Attleboro's offense was forced to punt. However Walsh, who also handles punting duties, decided to run with the ball and was taken down short of the first down, giving Xaverian the ball at the Attleboro 31.
The Bombardier defense held its own, stopping the Hawks on fourth and goal from the 2-yard line, but the Hawks defense again stepped up, forcing a punt and Xaverian took over at the Attleboro 37-yard line. Two plays later, Kaminski went to the right, losing his shoe before scampering all the way for a touchdown to tie the game 21-21.
"That was a credit to the offensive line, that was probably the biggest hole I've seen all season," Kaminski said. "Shoe or no shoe, it's expected for me to take that to the house."
It was the Hawk's defense stepping up big again as Walsh had three straight incompletions on the ensuing drive and was forced to punt again. On Xaverian's first play, Farrell was able to hit Nick Colantuoni for a 53-yard touchdown and Xaverian had their first lead since the second quarter at 28-21, with just 5:47 to play.
"Jake [Farrell] is a competitor and things might not have gone his early but he stayed after it and they were tough defensively," said Stevenson. "I'm sure their quarterback had some frustration too with our defense. I think [Farrell] made some big plays for us when he had to and he completed that big pass to Nick [Colantuoni], great fake on his part."
As Attleboro tried to respond on their next drive, defensive back Damion Wood put the final touches on a superb Xaverian defensive effort in the second half. As Walsh looked for an open receiver, he floated one across the field but Wood came away with the interception, taking it 24-yards for the pick-six and giving the Hawks a 35-21 lead with 5:14 left.
"They're a very good football team and very well coached and have good skill players," Stevenson said. "They gave us everything we could handle all over the field on both sides of the ball. I really have to congratulate Coach [Mike] Stratchan for the job he's done there, he's really done a fantastic job there. Those kids really played their hearts out. I really give all the credit to him and all of his players and his staff."
Attleboro took their next drive 68 yards in less than two minutes, capped off with a Damon Belin 16 yard touchdown catch from Walsh, but Xaverian recovered the onside kick attempt and used seven straight Kaminski runs that resulted in three first downs, allowing the Hawks to take a couple of kneel downs to run the clock out.
"They did a great job, they had seven in the box all day and they played pressed coverage on us and their athletes matched up very well with us and then they got momentum," Stratchan said. "That was the end of it for us.
"I gotta’ give a lot credit to them. They're physical and they're well coached and they have good match ups."
Xaverian will now play for the Division 1 Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 7. They will face off against Central Catholic, which defeated Everett, 20-14, in Saturday’s Division 1 North final.